Joanne Carter worked for McDonald’s for 15 years. But she always prefered foie gras to cheeseburgers.
Her new job as co-founder and CEO of For True Foodies Only — a bootstrapped company that’s about to launch an app for chefs and foodies — is probably more consistent with her culinary inclination.
A native of Toronto, Canada, Carter started her career at McDonald’s as Marketing Director in Poland. Then she moved to France, where she met the future co-founder of True Foodies, not to mention, her future husband: Taduesz “Ted” Kolodziejczyk, a professional chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
“When we moved to Chicago, we met a lot of claimed foodies who loved deep dish pizza.” Carter said. “We felt the need to advise them.”
Deep dish pizza, by the way, is the traditional Chicago-style pizza. A very tasty dish, but not the meal you usually eat in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
“The idea for True Foodies is actually Ted’s,” Carter said. “He kept asking: Why are there no social media platform for chefs?”
By mixing features with which Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users are already familiar, True Foodies aims to build a social platform “for people who love food that is made with art, not that’s just tasty,” as Carter said.
The team thinks the potential audience for True Foodies is a mix of professional chefs, high-profile restaurateurs, sommeliers and any people who can afford to eat or cook gourmet cuisine. The process to get access to the community may vary depending on who you are.
According to Carter, food lovers just need to download the app and start exploring. By navigating the app, they can find foodie friends and post articles or videos, as on their Facebook feeds, follow the chefs they like, as they would do on Twitter and publish photos of their preferred meals, as they would do on Instagram. When users publish a pic of a meal, the system suggests a selection of wines to pair with it.
Professional chefs and restaurateurs will need to go through a few additional steps to join True Foodies. They can either be invited by a chef who is already part of the community, or by supplying validation of their professional identity and qualifications.
“We do a validation through social media and through our community, which includes already 3,000 restaurants in about 15 countries and 50 professional chefs,” said Carter.
Chefs can also share with their followers their preferences about restaurants. As a result, people looking for a special dinner can get highly qualified suggestions.
On True Foodies, suggestions appear either as maps or lists. Say, for example, that you’re in Paris. A map of Paris will show you which restaurants got more votes by the True Foodies community.
Another example; assume you’re a big fan of French chef Christian Constant: True Foodies will show you which restaurants he likes.
It’s not the first time that an app provides chef suggestions. On ChefsFeed, for example, users can see which specific dishes are recommended by chefs around a specific location. According to Carter, True Foodies will be different because of its exclusive, high-trusted community.
Because downloading the app will be free, the revenue model is based on advertising and on-demand sales. Chefs will have the chance to sell their recipes.
“It’s going to work the way iTunes works,” Carter explained. “You don’t necessarily need to buy a whole album, just your favorite song. Similarly, if you like a particular meal, you can buy just that recipe, not the whole cookbook.”
The True Foodies team has 20 employees, six of them based in Chicago, two in LA and others in India, Italy, Japan and Spain.
The beta version of the app will be launched in mid-July. If the testing phase goes smoothly, the app will be available in September.